2 Kings 8:17-24
Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.…
Thirty and two years old was he [Jehoram] when he began to reign, etc. This is a short fragment of a king's history - the history of Jehoram. Brief as it is, it contains many practical truths.
I.THAT PIETY IS NOT NECESSARILY HEREDITARY. Parents, as a rule, transmit their physical and intellectual qualities to their children, but not their moral characters. Jehoram was a bad man and a wicked king, but he was the son of Jehoshaphat, who was a man of distinguished piety, and reigned wisely and beneficently over Israel for twenty-five years. Of him it was said that "the more his riches and honor increased the more his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 17:5, 6). He caused the altars and places of idolatry to be destroyed, and the knowledge of the Lord to be diffused throughout the kingdom, and the places of ecclesiastical and judicial authority to be well rifled (2 Chronicles 17:9). But how different was his son! One of the first acts of his government was to put to death his six brothers, and several of the leading men of the empire. It is here said that "he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as din the house of Ahab: He regulated his conduct by the infamous "house of Ahab," and not by the religions house of his father. He was in truth a murderer, an idolater, and a persecutor. But whilst piety is not necessarily hereditary - not necessarily, because children are moral agents - what then? Are parents to do nothing to impart all that is good in their character to their children? Undoubtedly, no! They are commanded to "train up a child in the way it should go" when it is young. And where their power is rightly employed, there is, if not invariable, yet general, success. Where the children of godly parents turn out to be profligate and corrupt, as a rule some defect may be found in the parental conduct. How often eminent ministers of the gospel, and in the main good men, are guilty of neglecting, to a greater or less extent, the parental oversight and religions training of their children. Even in the life of Jehoshaphat we detect at least two parental defects.
1. In permitting his son to form unholy alliances. This good man, Jehoshaphat, formed a league with Ahab against Syria, contrary to the counsel of Micaiah (2 Chronicles 18.). For this the Prophet Jehu censured him severely. In consequence of this alliance his son married the daughter of this infamous Ahab, and the matrimonial connection with such a woman, idolatrous, corrupt, and the daughter of Jezebel, had, no doubt, a powerful influence in deteriorating his moral character.
2. In granting his son too great an indulgence. He raised him to the throne during his own lifetime. He took him into royal partnership too soon, and thus supplied him with abundant means to foster his vanity and ambition. Ah, me! how many parents ruin their children forever by over indulgence!
II. THAT IMMORAL KINGS ARE NATIONAL CURSES. What evils this man brought upon his country. It is said that "in his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents," etc. Through him the kingdom of Judah lost Edom, which "revolted" and became the determined enemy of Judah ever afterwards (Psalm 137:7), Libnah, too, "revolted at the same time," This was a city in the south-western part of Judah assigned to the priests, and a city of refuge. But these revolts are but specimens of the tremendous evils that this immoral man Brought upon the kingdom. It has always been so. Wicked kings, in all ages, have been the greatest curses that have afflicted the human race. God said to Israel of old, "I gave thee a king in mine anger" (Hosea 13:11). And the gift, on the whole, it must be confessed, has been a curse to mankind; and that because few men who have attained the position have been divinely royal in intellect, in heart, in thoughts, in aims, in sympathies. What does Heaven say of wicked kings? "As a roaring lion, and a raging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people." When will the world have true kings? - such a king as is described in the Book of Proverbs, as one "that sitteth in the throne of judgment," and who "scattereth away all evil with his eyes"? He is one who sees justice done. He does not rule for the interest of a class, but for the good of all. His laws are equitable. Partialities and predilections which govern plebeian souls have no sway over him,
"He's a king,
A true right king, that dare do aught save wrong,
Fears nothing mortal but to be unjust;
Who is not blown up with the flattering puffs
Of spongy sycophants; who stands unmoved,
Despite the jostling of opinion."
III. THAT DEATH IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS.
I. Death does not respect a man's position, however high. "And Jehoram slept with his fathers, and was buried." Jehoram was a king, yet death struck him down, and he was buried with his fathers. Palaces are as accessible to death as paupers' huts. Attempted resistance in the former, however skillfully organized, would be as futile as in the latter. Death cares nothing for kings; crowns, diadems, scepters, courtiers, and pompous pageantries are only as dust in his icy glance.
2. Death does not respect a man's character, however vile. Jehoram was a bad man, and utterly unfit to die; but death waits not for moral preparation. When we remember what evils wicked men, especially wicked kings, work in the world, death must be regarded as a beneficent messenger. The psalmist saw mercy in the destruction of despots. He "overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea: for his mercy endureth forever." "To him which smote great kings, and slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth forever" (Psalm 136.). There is mercy for the race in their destruction. When such demons in human flesh are cut down, the world breathes more freely, a load is rolled from its heart, obstacles are swept from its path of progress. When the Pharaohs are overwhelmed, the human Israel can march on to promised lands.
CONCLUSION. Parents, cultivate personal religion, and endeavor with all earnestness to transmit it to your children. Kings, seek to understand and to embody the ideal of true kingship, be royal in moral character. All, stand in readiness for the approach of death. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.